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Elusive peace as LASU, ASUU renew hostilities

By Iyabo Lawal
19 September 2019   |   3:50 am
After a lull, gladiators in the Lagos State University (LASU) crisis returned to the trenches, as the institution’s governing council wielded the big stick against some officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the school.

Prof. Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun

After a lull, gladiators in the Lagos State University (LASU) crisis returned to the trenches, as the institution’s governing council wielded the big stick against some officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the school.At the last count, three ASUU officials, Dr Tony Dansu, Dr Adeolu Oyekan and Dr Kemi Aboderin-Shonibare were last Friday dismissed for gross misconduct, unauthorised removal of confidential documents, sale of marks and receipt of financial inducements.

The Council had in September 2017 sacked the institution’s ASUU chairman, Isaac Oyewunmi and his vice, Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu.Mr. Oyewunmi was dismissed for demanding N50, 000 from students while Mr. Adeyemi-Suenu was sacked for “unilaterally altering” the results of 12 students already advised to withdraw by Senate.

Both Dansu and Oyekan have been piloting the affairs of the union since the two officials were dismissed two years ago before their sack by the Council last Friday.

While the university described the sack of the embattled ASUU officials as in order, having been found guilty of the allegations leveled against them, the affected union leaders, however, faulted the council insisting that their dismissal was an act of victimisation and attempt to silence any opposition on campus.

The Council had at the end of its 122nd statutory meeting resolved as follows
“Dr. Oluwakemi Adebisi Aboderin -Shonibare of the Department of African Languages, Literature and Communication Arts, was investigated on allegation of being in possession of confidential documents, such as assessor’s report and report of appointments, promotions and disciplinary committee of council, and found culpable. Council noted that her action constituted a serious misconduct; and she’s therefore dismissed.

“Dr. Adeolu Oyekan, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, was investigated on allegations of unauthorised removal, retention and publication of official confidential documents and infractions arising from the interviews granted to online media platforms and found culpable. His action constituted a serious misconduct and he is therefore dismissed.

“Dr. Anthony Dansu of the Department of Human Kinetics, Sports and Health Education, Faculty of Education, was investigated on allegation of unauthorised removal, retention and publication of official confidential documents and infractions arising from the interviews granted online media platforms and found culpable. He is therefore dismissed from the services of the university with immediate effect.Dansu who traced their ordeal to 2017 alleged that the university management led by the vice chancellor, Prof Olanrewaju Fagboun, was out to silence every perceived opposition.

He said, “the university has again dismissed three members of LASU-ASUU executives; two years ago, precisely September 7, 2017, the school dismissed the chairman and vice chairman, then the union went out to protest the action, which was an act of victimisation because of the illegality going on in LASU that surrounds the vice chancellor because when Fagbohun came in, we thought that we have a professor of law but he started breaking the law in terms of appointment and managing the finances of the university.

“As the conscience of the nation and watchdog in the system, we as a union went out and so for mentioning it, they thought the union is too powerful and there’s need to tame it so that the illegalities can continue. They came up with trumped up charges against the chairman and his vice and purportedly dismissed the two thinking that the union would keep quiet.

“It was the decision of the whole house after the dismissal of the two officials that the secretary and assistant secretary should be the spokesperson of the union to defend the position of ASUU, and the university system and we went ahead to continue to do this which did not augur well for the university administration.

“The union got information about the fraudulent way Fagbohun got his professorship, which he used to apply for the vice chancellorship of LASU and then we exposed him. We then wrote as a union that the governing council should investigate why the erstwhile registrar had to unilaterally backdate the illegal promotion that was given Fagbohun in 2014 to 2008 to enable him qualify to apply for the vice chancellorship position. Instead of them addressing that issue, they now said we stole confidential documents and then constituted a panel to look into why we had to steal confidential documents in this era of FOI Act and also in a university system.

“They failed to address the flaws in that letter and are now dismissing us from the service of the university for having confidential documents in our possession and then using same against the VC, Dansu stated.On his part, Oyekan accused the administration of Fagbohun as a “very lawless and reckless one” which will stop at nothing to annihilate whatever he perceived as an opposition to his dictatorial rule and hold over the school.

“A lot of things are going on, so many distractions to paint the picture to the world that all is well with the university but so much damage is being done to the fabric of LASU because of the lawlessness of Fagboun. “Our offence had to do with a particular document they said we stole from the file of Fagboun from the office of the dean, faculty of law. In 2018, when the university advertised the position of the other principal officers -librarian, bursar and registrar, we opposed it in the sense that they said those who had held that position could apply but the ASUU-FGN agreement in 2009 states that those position now should be for a single tenure, we didn’t feel that those principal officers should be eligible to reapply.

“But in specific terms, we raised the issue of the then registrar, that he was not a fit and proper person to hold the position because he has done so much damage to the system by misinterpreting the position of the governing council on issues. In making that allegation, we needed to cite one instance an then we said that the 9th governing council promoted Fagboun who had left LASU since 2011 to the rank of professor from associate professor with effect from May 7, 2014 which was backdated to 2008.

We said the governing council should investigate where the registrar got the power to write Fagbohun, promoting him to the rank of professor with effect from 2008 when the university bulletin states that the promotion should take effect from 2014. “We attached the decision extract of the governing council and the letter the erstwhile registrar wrote to Fagboun. Rather than admit to their own wrong, the question now became where did you get the document you attached to this petition?

He added, “Fagboun in his four-year stint as vice chancellor has dismissed five key ASUU officials in the name of trying to sanitise the system but we know that this is a charade because ASUU is the only union that is standing up to him to uncover all the acts of perfidy and maladministration entrenched in that system. So many things are going on, this is the vice chancellor who dipped his hands into our pension money in the name of accreditation only to buy official cars for principal officers and chairman of council.

On their next line of action, Oyekan said since the conditions of service of the university provides for an appeal, they will exploit that angle.“We are also seeking the intervention of the court to determine whether LASU can continue to insist that it is not bound by the FOI Act which states very clearly that public officers do not have to account for how he or she came about a public document and that no employer, no public agency can put a public officer on trial because we enjoy immunity for the use of any public document.”

But the school dismissed the claims of the embattled officials insisting that their action contravened the laid university law.Coordinator, centre for information, press and public relations, Ademola Adekoya in buttressing the council’s position said the affected officials allegedly stole confidential documents from the university and used them without approval, which is an offence punishable by outright dismissal.On claims by the embattled officials that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act empowers them to use such documents, Adekoya said to use any document, one must get an approval.

“in the case of the affected officials, they did not seek for approval or write, if they had written to ask for those documents under the FOI Act, the university would have no choice than to give them. Besides, the dean, faculty of law had accused the officials of theft for stealing documents from his office and wrote them to return the documents.“For unlawful display of university documents and for parading the institution in bad light, they have contravened the law of LASU and the penalty is dismissal, Adekoya added.